Senator Brian Kavanagh and Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon Announce Package of Sweeping Gun Violence Prevention Bills

Coalition celebrates passage of Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) bill and other legislation that will save New Yorkers’ lives
January 29, 2019

Albany, NY – On Tuesday, January 29, 2019, New York State Senator Brian Kavanagh, Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon, and advocates celebrated the passage of a package of gun violence prevention bills, including a bill to create Extreme Risk Protection Orders, also known as ERPOs and referred to as the “red flag” bill. In the face of federal inaction, the bill sponsors are part of a broad coalition supporting enactment of ERPO in New York, including NYS New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, Giffords, Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action, the Brady Campaign, the Citizens Crime Commission of NYC, Prosecutors Against Gun Violence, District Attorneys, mental health and medical professionals, law enforcement officials, educators, Senate co-prime sponsor Brad Hoylman, and other legislators.

The set of bills passed today by both houses of the legislature serves as the first major overhaul of New York’s gun laws since the SAFE Act was enacted following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2013. While many of these bills passed easily in the Assembly in previous years, this was the first time the Senate had the opportunity to vote on them. Legislators and advocates expect that this package will strengthen our existing laws and save many lives.

The ERPO bill (S2451/A2689) would create a new type of court-issued order of protection that temporarily prohibits individuals from purchasing or possessing guns if a family member, law enforcement officer, or school administrator petitions a court and the court finds that the individual is likely to engage in conduct that would harm themselves or others. Thirteen states, including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington have adopted ERPO laws. Peer-reviewed academic studies of the law’s effects in Connecticut have shown a substantial decrease in suicide rates.

The package also includes bills to ensure comprehensive background checks (S2374/A2690), ban bump stocks (S2448/A2648), prevent teachers from being armed on school grounds (S101A/A1715A), review mental health records of out-of-state applicants for gun permits (S2438/A1213), and promote gun buyback programs (S2449/A2685).

 

Senator Brian Kavanagh said, “Gun violence is an epidemic that has afflicted our country for far too long. While New York has some of the strongest gun laws in the nation, thanks to the SAFE Act of 2013, and one of the lowest rates of gun-related death in America, we still have about 900 New Yorkers dying from gunfire each year, and that is simply unacceptable. Enacting extreme risk protection orders will empower family members, law enforcement, and school officials to prevent gun tragedies by temporarily restricting access to guns for individuals when evidence shows they are likely to harm themselves or others. Until now, this bill, which we have been working to pass for several years, has been blocked by Senate Republicans, in spite of strong support from gun violence prevention experts, district attorneys, police, doctors and nurses, mental health organizations, concerned families across the state, and gun violence survivors. Today, I am proud to bring this legislation to the Senate floor--along with bills to strengthen background checks, and other measures we have long sought to enact because they’ll save lives. I thank Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and each of the sponsors of the bills we are taking up today, for their leadership.”

Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon said, “Today, New York State took decisive action to prevent gun violence and save lives with the passage of this package of bills. Too often, we are able to see the warning signs that an individual close to us poses a risk of serious harm to themselves or to others, but lack a mechanism to prevent unthinkable tragedies such as interpersonal gun violence or suicide. This legislation will give family members, law enforcement, and school personnel the tools they need to prevent these kinds of tragedies before they happen. People close to the shooter in Parkland reported their concerns about him to law enforcement, but there was no mechanism for them to act. This bill can change that. I am grateful to Senator Kavanagh and the advocates for their leadership to prevent gun violence.”


Senator Brad Hoylman said, "Today New York rejected the gun lobby and embraced common sense. For decades, we have watched as mass shooting after mass shooting failed to spur change in Washington. While the federal government sits on its hands, we will not let the next Parkland or Sandy Hook happen on our watch. These tragedies are preventable--and the first step is to keep guns out of the hands of violent and dangerous people. Thanks to the undeterred efforts of Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Senator Brian Kavanagh, and Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon, and my colleagues in the Democratic conference, common-sense gun legislation is now the law of the land in New York. We can only hope that other states will follow suit."

 

Rebecca Fischer, Executive Director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, said, “Today New York’s lawmakers demonstrated true leadership by passing sensible, life-saving measures to prevent gun violence across our state. Our leaders understand that New Yorkers need more than condolences to keep our neighborhoods, homes, and schools safe. We need to keep guns away from people in crisis, not guns in our classrooms. We applaud the Majority Leader and Speaker, the bill sponsors and our broad coalition fighting to save lives. Together, we helped push these bills across the finish line.”


“We are thrilled that this gun safety package is getting an early vote,” said Erin DaCosta, volunteer leader with the New York chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “Seeing this life saving legislation move forward gives me hope that strong leadership can result in real, common sense solutions against gun violence. Thank you Senate and Assembly leadership and to all of the legislators and who worked to move this forward and Governor Cuomo for his leadership.”

“After the murder of my son, Scott Beigel, on February 14, 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, fighting for reasonable gun control legislation to be passed in the state of New York has been my mission. Actually being in Albany and able to see the vote first hand is a privilege and honor. Thank you to all of the legislators who have supported, cared and been with me every step of the way,” said, Linda Beigel Schulman, mother of Scott Beigel, a 35-year-old teacher who was shot and killed while he was saving his students in a classroom at the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.


"Gun violence is a public safety threat that causes tragedies in communities across New York every single day," said Nico Bocour, state legislative director at Giffords. "In recent years, leaders in New York have understood that the best way to address this epidemic is by passing stronger gun safety laws. This trailblazing legacy continues today as lawmakers show they are determined to continue passing laws that protect the lives of all New Yorkers. We are pleased to see this robust package introduced in the New York Senate. Thanks to the courage of legislators like Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Senators Brian Kavanagh and Brad Hoylman, and Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon, who are willing to take on gun violence, we can help build a brighter future for New York and we look forward to joining the fight to turn these bills into laws."

Kris Brown, President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said, "Thanks to the ongoing efforts of New York's elected officials, residents of the state are already protected by some of the country's strongest gun safety laws. But gun violence is a complex epidemic that requires a multi-faceted policy response, and we're pleased to see the state legislature continue pushing for further action.  From expanding Brady Background Checks to enacting Extreme Risk Protection Orders, this is a comprehensive and ambitious package that will serve as a model for the nation. We're proud to support these important bills, and we look forward to the governor signing them into law as soon as possible."

Dakota Jablon, Deputy Legislative Director for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, said, "We are pleased that New York is taking a comprehensive approach to gun violence prevention. In particular, we applaud the introduction of legislation to create an extreme risk protection order. The extreme risk protection order is an evidence-based intervention that has saved lives in states across the country, and we are confident it will be an effective tool for families and law enforcement in New York. We urge policymakers to pass this important legislation with bipartisan support."


“The State of New York has long been a leader in the fight against gun violence because it recognizes the need to respond swiftly and to do so comprehensively. While states lack the power to develop the sort of national response so desperately needed from Congress, state legislation has been proven over and over again to be an effective deterrent against gun violence. The deadly toll extracted by guns can tolerate no delay in reacting – lives are literally at stake – and the complexities of gun violence demand a comprehensive approach. This package of bills addresses both of these requirements demonstrating once again that the both the governor and legislative leadership have the will and determination to act to defend New Yorkers,” said Richard M. Aborn, president of the Citizens Crime Commission of New York.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. and Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, Prosecutors Against Gun Violence Co-Chairs, said, “Today New York moves several steps closer to becoming the national model for reducing gun deaths that it really ought to be. Extreme Risk Protection Orders in particular are saving lives in states with active PAGV members like California and Oregon, and we are gratified that New York families and law enforcement could soon be similarly empowered to disarm domestic abusers and people in mental health crisis. As the co-founders of Prosecutors Against Gun Violence, we applaud the pursuit of these strong, sensible and fair gun violence prevention laws, and we commend Governor Cuomo, legislative leaders and sponsors, and gun violence survivors who are working together to get this done.”

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said, “I commend the New York State Senate and Assembly for passing a common sense package of gun violence prevention legislation that will save lives and make New York a safer place for all residents. Thanks to Speaker Carl Heastie, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Senator Brian Kavanagh, Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon, and all of the advocates, for their leadership on this issue, especially on Extreme Risk Protection Orders, an important tool to keep guns out of the hands of those determined to pose a risk to themselves or others.”

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said, “By prohibiting high risk individuals from purchasing or possessing guns, this bill will help keep New Yorkers safe from needless gun violence. This bill provides safeguards to protect innocent lives, but also to protect the rights of law-abiding and peaceful gun owners. According to research published in the American Journal of Public Health, the access to a gun in domestic violence situations increases the risk of homicide for women by 500 percent. It is crucial to have safety measures in place to avoid preventable tragedies from occurring. Where evidence shows that an individual is a high risk of danger to others, appropriate measures should be taken to keep the community safe. I strongly support the Extreme Risk Protection Order bill.”

Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark said, “I am pleased that these new gun violence prevention measures for which I have advocated are now the law in New York.  There has been far too much tragedy in the Bronx caused by illegal guns, and guns in the hands of people who are likely to harm themselves and others. Extreme Risk Protection Orders will help save lives in New York. And I welcome the support for Gun Buyback programs. My Office has held two such events in the past three years and the community is an eager partner in turning in illegal firearms. I am proud that New York continues to be in the forefront against gun violence and is one of the top states with the strictest and most sensible gun reform laws in this country.”

Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas said, “When a person is in a crisis the result is often deadly – whether it is a suicide, a murder of a family member or a mass shooting. Extreme Risk Protection Orders give law enforcement an opportunity to intervene - before an act of violence - by removing firearms from people who are at risk of hurting themselves or others. I thank Senator Kavanagh and Assemblymember Simon for championing this legislation and giving prosecutors a tool that will help save lives.”

“These six measures combine in different ways to protect the public from gun violence.   They are common-sense legislative proposals that we should all embrace, allowing us to continue to make progress in gun safety policy.  As nurses, we see the strong connection between these proposed laws and the safety and health of the public. They are a critical move forward," said Judith Cutchin, RN, New York State Nurses Association Board Member and President of NYSNA's NYC Health and Hospitals/Mayorals Executive Council.

Dr. Thomas Madejski, President of the Medical Society of the State of New York, said, “Today’s gun safety package contains a number of important measures supported by the medical community. Establishing ‘red flag’ laws, prohibiting the sale of so-called ‘bump stocks’, and extending the waiting period to purchase firearms are all common sense reforms that have been supported by MSSNY as ways to reduce the risk of firearms coming into the hands of those who present a risk to themselves or others. We thank the Senate and Assembly leadership, as well as Governor Cuomo, for advancing these important measures.”

“A central part of the mission of the National Alliance on Mental Illness-New York State (NAMI-NYS) is reducing suicide. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 60% of firearm deaths are attributed to suicide. This is why NAMI-NYS urges New York State to enact Extreme Risk Protection Orders to remove guns from the homes of people with mental illness during times of crisis. All too often, the concerns of families are not taken into account despite the fact that they regularly have more insight on their loved one’s condition than the individual, especially during times of crisis. This would be one of the few laws that empower families and caregivers to step in and help their loved ones during their most vulnerable times. We are grateful to Senator Brian Kavanagh and Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon for their leadership on this life-saving initiative and their consistent championing of this issue,” said Wendy Burch, Executive Director of NAMI-NYS.

“Guns are now the third leading cause of death among US children and the second leading cause of trauma or injury-related death. The NYSAAP has worked to build support for a NYS safe storage law, which protects children of all ages but especially our youngest. Too often, we hear tragic stories of kids getting their hands on guns that parents thought were well hidden or safely stored. In conjunction with other laws passed today, including ERPO, an evidence-based policy shown to decrease pediatric firearm suicide, our elected officials took another enormous step today in making NY state a beacon for protecting children from gun violence,” said Jeffrey Oestreicher MD & Nina Agrawal MD, Chairs for Committee on Gun Violence Prevention, NYS American Academy of Pediatrics.

BACKGROUND

This ERPO legislation is supported by a broad coalition of national and New York State gun violence prevention experts, advocates, law enforcement officials, mental health organizations, and healthcare groups including New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, Giffords, Everytown for Gun Safety, the New York Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Citizens Crime Commission of New York City, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, Prosecutors Against Gun Violence, New York Legislators for Gun Violence Prevention, March for Our Lives NY, Gays Against Guns, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, the Greater New York Hospital Association, the Mental Health Association of New York State, the Mental Health Association of New York City, the Mental Health Association in Orange County, Mental Health America of Dutchess County, the National Alliance on Mental Illness-New York State, the NY Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the New York State Nurses Association, National Physicians Alliance NY, National Hispanic Medical Association, Doctors for American New York, Manhattan Central Medical Society, Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder and District Attorneys Clark (Bronx), Gonzalez (Brooklyn), Vance, Jr. (Manhattan), Singas (Nassau), Brown (Queens), Scarpino (Westchester), McMahon (Staten Island), and Sini (Suffolk), American Federation of Teachers, New York State United Teachers, United Federation of Teachers, the Council of Supervisors and Administrators, all of whom called for extreme risk protection orders to be enacted into state law.

The following bills were passed in both houses of the legislature on January 29, 2019:

  • S2451/A2689 Kavanagh/Simon. Extreme Risk Protection Orders. An act to amend the civil practice law and rules and the penal law, in relation to establishing extreme risk protection orders as court-issued orders of protection prohibiting a person from purchasing, possessing or attempting to purchase or possess a firearm, rifle or shotgun. The bill passed with bipartisan support in the Assembly and Senate.  
  • S2374/A2690 Gianaris/Paulin. Allow Up to 30 Days for Background Checks. An act to amend the penal law and the general business law, in relation to establishing an extension of time of up to thirty calendar days for national instant background checks.
  • S2448/A2648 Sepulveda/Fahy. Ban Bump Stocks and Similar Devices. An act to amend the penal law, in relation to prohibiting the possession, manufacture, transport and disposition of rapid-fire modification devices.
  • S101A/A1715A Kaminsky/Griffin. Don't Arm Educators. An act to amend the penal law, in relation to limiting educational institutions ability to authorize the possession of a weapon on school grounds.
  • S2438/A1213 Kaplan/Hunter. Review Out-of-State Mental Health Records. An act to amend the penal law, in relation to access to foreign state records.
  • S2449/A2685 Mayer/Rosenthal L. Promote Buyback Programs. An act to amend the executive law, in relation to establishing the municipal gun buyback program; and to amend the state finance law, in relation to the municipal gun buyback program fund.